October 12, 2005

Alabama Sales Taxes Hitting 10 Percent

Lawmakers usually see 10 percent as a cap above which combined state/local sales tax rates can't go without an uproar being raised. But some Alabama cities have now crossed into double digits, as described in this Birmingham News article. What's prompted this politically perilous move? Inaction on the part of state lawmakers.

When tough fiscal policy decisions don't get made at the state level, they usually get shunted down to the local level. Alabama is no exception to this rule. Since the failure of Governor Bob Riley's revenue-raising tax reform in the fall of 2003, the inadequacies of Alabama's tax system have continued to hamper the state's ability to provide necessary public services.

Groups like Alabama Arise continue to carry the torch for needed progressive tax reform, but until these changes happen at the state level, local governments will continue to bear the brunt of the state's inaction. Faced with the choice between unaffordable school spending cuts and hiking the limited array of local taxes under their control, locals have to do pretty unpopular things-- including a 10 percent sales tax.

Check out Alabama Arise's excellent Tax Reform Handbook for more on what the state ought to be doing to reform its tax system.


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